Penticton moves ahead with border expansion

Proposed area might also expand Skaha Bluffs Provincial Park

Adding this block of land would extend Penticton’s boundaries right up to the Skaha Bluffs Provincial Park. (File photo)

The City of Penticton is moving on to the next step in extending the city’s boundaries by about 300 acres in the Upper Wiltse area.

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Council voted unanimously to move ahead with the process, which requires elector support. Rather than a referendum, council approved using the alternate approval process, which would require at least 10 per cent of the electors to petition against the boundary extension.

As they move into public consultation about the extension, the City of Penticton is changing how it refers to what the Official Community Plan called the south block. Instead, they’re referring to the process of adding the approximate 300 acres as the Skaha Bluffs boundary extension.

“It resonates more with many people in the city as opposed to calling it the South Wiltse Block, because really it is part of the Skaha Bluffs,” said Ben Johnson, special projects manager for the city.

The shift in thinking is important for another reason. About 150 acres of the land is earmarked to be preserved as parkland.

The total area of the south block is about 300 acres, bordered on the north and west by the City of Penticton and by Skaha Bluffs Provincial Park on the south and east.

“These lands were initially contemplated in about 2013, and then folded into our OCP in 2014,” said Johnson. “The South block could accommodate about 180 units of housing if it was built out.”

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Not all of the south block is developable, primarily a section on the northwestern side. The area to the southwest could be subdivided off and gifted to the province as an expansion of the Skaha Bluffs Provincial Park.

“It is about 150 acres of land and is of very high ecological value. It contains some important hiking and climbing areas as well,” said Johnson.

He described that part of the deal as “something that is not fully resolved, but will become more clarified as we move further into the process.”

This land in question is currently private property, according to Johnson, but does contain a number of significant climbing and hiking areas.

“The owners are allowing people on there, but this would provide an opportunity to guarantee long-term public access to these lands,” said Johnson. “There is the potential here to land about 150 acres of new parkland within city limits, but managed by the provincial government through B.C. Parks.”